A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week may force researchers, scholars, and courts to re-evaluate its assessment of eyewitness testimony.
For years now, psychologists, law professors, lawyers and judges have become skeptical of eyewitness testimony. Studies have indicated that eyewitness evidence was often inaccurate or skewed.
The number one cause cited for wrongful convictions has been erroneous eyewitness evidence.
Now, however, researchers from UC-San Diego have conducted a study that calls into question whether eyewitness evidence is always unreliable.
The study found that the confidence of the eyewitness in their identification or observation strongly related to accuracy. Additionally, the study also found that simultaneous lineups (an identification procedure where police bring in multiple suspects to be viewed by a witness or victim at the same time) are more accurate and fair than sequential lineups. This, too, cuts against the grain of prior beliefs about identification procedures.
While this study raises questions about previously held beliefs concerning eyewitness evidence, further research and study will be required to corroborate its findings. Nevertheless, it presents questions the legal and academic community will have to confront.
Ronald G. Brower is a criminal defense lawyer in Southern California. Attorney Brower has represented individuals charged with a range of crimes over the course of his three decades of practice.
Contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney.